A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Tragedy, Theater and Death shines a spotlight on what theater, and especially tragedy, tells us about our ontological selves, by exploring both Euripides’ Bacchae and the work of Tadeusz Kantor.
Focusing on the theatrical tradition of the West, the book examines Euripides’ Bacchae, a tragedy about the nature of tragedy, suggesting that the tragic can be defined as an ontological duality rooted in the early experience of the infant’s separation from mother, with whom s/he had, until then, formed a fused Unit. The traumatic rupture of this primal Unit is inscribed in the unconscious as death.
The book then considers the defining binary structure of the theatrical setting – (spectator/spectated or fantasy/reality) – before arguing that in staging our ontological dividedness, theater shows its relation to death to be organic. The book concludes by examining in detail the principal works of Polish theater director Tadeusz Kantor, whose search for theater’s identity was, essentially, a search for human identity.
Erudite and far-reaching, A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Tragedy, Theater and Death will interest psychoanalysts as well as students, scholars and researchers across the dramatic arts wishing to draw on psychoanalytic ideas.